COM 0011-521: Blog Post 2 – Listening to Online Communities

If there is one thing I learned from listening to online communities, it’s that the old saying “know your audience” still applies to the online world.

In most situations, brands will try to bend over backwards to their audience. Seldom will they engage in fights with their audience. With every post being visible to the internet at large, a negative tweet can quickly blow up and become an example of what not to do in a marketing class.

However, this rule doesn’t always apply if you’re talking about personal branding. I’ve followed a lot of video game reviewers and the one thing I found is that they will readily reply back to nasty tweets with their own level of snark. Interestingly, they won’t lose followers. In fact, they even have their defenders.

As an example, I follow Arthur Gies on Twitter. If you look at his most popular tweets in terms of retweets and the number of times it’s marked as a favourite, you’ll see that he doesn’t hold back. A choice example is “oh noooo all the dudes with anime avatars are commenting”. That’s a tweet that directly attacked a segment of his readership and yet he still manages to be fairly popular.

So what allows a game reviewer to respond to snark where a company cannot? Well it might be the fact that their job description requires them to be opinionated. We somewhat expect a certain amount of snark from film reviewers with regards to terrible films. Fashion commentators are well known for heaving insults on the poorly dressed. So those that follow game reviewers might have come to expect that the reviewers can be insulting.

If your audience expects you to be someone who is highly critical and snarky, they will follow you. This is even true if you end up insulting a portion of them. Companies, and especially those focused on customer service, are never afforded those luxuries. No one expects insults in return for a customer complaint. In fact, your customer base may leave you en masse as a result. So, in the end, if you know who your audience is, you can more easily figure out what is the best way to interact with them.

Raffaele Furgiuele

2 thoughts on “COM 0011-521: Blog Post 2 – Listening to Online Communities

  1. Its interesting what you are talking about. Now that the underdogs have a voice right to the top, risks are being taken and paying off. This technique creates great word of mouth and keep people coming back for more to get a reaction. What does that say about an audience? Interesting.
    Kerry

  2. Really great points here. This reminds me of a quote someone said one time about storytelling and writing, and how it’s okay that you’re biased, because anyone trying to write or prove anything is, but you need to declare your bias. The same thing applies here, I think if you set the tone with your audience about what kind of tone and context to expect from you, it won’t seem so harsh when they read a sarcastic comment. For instance, there are plenty of these types of accounts on Twitter (i.e. ‘Shit Girls Say’), where they’ve set the precedent of being sarcastic or mildly and humorously offensive, and their audience often loves this because these accounts fulfill a certain naughtiness; they say what people are really thinking, the only difference between those accounts and other people is that most other people aren’t brave enough to say such things in the online identities they’ve already claimed for themselves.

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